- Movie Rating -

Anaïs in Love (2022)

| May 4, 2022

If I were living in a space that included a girl like Anaïs I might be inclined to want strangle her, or at the very least thrust her out of my immediate surroundings so I could get on with the normal patterns of my life.  She is the kind of person that I generally dislike.  She’s flighty, dismissive, irresponsible and is generally an irritant to those who depend on her for one thing or another.  But since this is a movie, I am kind of charmed, maybe because I can see more closely how she is able to maneuver and lightly con those people that she has inconvenienced.

Anaïs seems to see life in pieces and parts, racing toward one thing today but never really having an eye on the consequences of what will come tomorrow.  She is at least half an hour late for everything from lunches to dates to appointments to her rent, which she ducks and dodges from her landlady with a quick turn of words, phrases and promises that we sense that she won’t keep.  Nestled somewhere in her mid-20s, we sense that she’s become schooled at this.  As my mother might describe her: “She gets by on her charm.”

And she does.  It’s hard for people to completely toss Anaïs out the door because of her hummingbird-like manner and her way with words, which constantly get her out of a displeasurable circumstance (the landlady again) that, were she to downshift to third gear, might land her in  trouble.  Actually, they’d have to catch her first.  Anaïs in Love, the first feature-length directorial effort by actress Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, spends much of the time watching her race form one thing to another – up and down staircases, across courtyards, fields, sidewalks, you name it.  And yet, there is never a moment when we are dismissive of this woman.  Anaïs Demoustier plays this young woman with a singular charm that is so embracing that we can’t really blame those in her immediate space.  It is not played at a manic comedy level but is played just real enough and just intimate enough that we forgive her faults.  She made me smile several times.

Not surprisingly, her life is a mess.  Her boyfriend (Christopher Montenez) just walked out on her and her mother (Anne Canovas) just revealed that she has a medical condition which is terminal.  Also, she’s working on dissertation about 17th century literary passion but couldn’t possibly find time for research or writing between racing here or there to be an inconvenience.  It’s one more thing that won’t get done.

She embarks on a relationship with an older married man named Daniel (Denis Podalydes) and  perhaps there was a spark at the beginning but quickly we realize that whatever promise this relationship (and particularly the sex) held are not to be fulfilled. He is married to Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) a professional writer that Anaïs begins to stalk mercilessly. but why?  The unguarded and unapologetic way that she shows up for everything from Emilie’s lectures to her personal appearances and even simple walks down the street would make anyone else run for cover, but . . .

I won’t say what happens.  What comes in the film’s third act is earned by all of what we have observed about Anaïs up to this moment.  Even the final decision is based on her flighty nature, but by that point she has positioned herself with a sense of maturity – a balance between following her passion and her first baby steps toward stability.  Something blossoms in this young woman over the course of this film that is really quite lovely and quite moving.  I’m being vague, I know, but trust me when I say that the movie earns its final moments.

Of course, some of my critics have dismissed Anaïs in Love for flying too low, for not having enough of a dramatic arc.  But not every film has to fly at 20,000 feet.  I liked the low-level intensity of this film.  It’s observational about this woman’s mind, her heart and her reckless nature and where it gets her.  This is a charming film, and I liked it a lot.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Foreign